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Thread: Knights Cross Soldbuch

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    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Default Knights Cross Soldbuch

    75 Years ago, late in December 1943, Obergefreiter Max Friedrich earned the knights cross.
    What makes this Soldbuch extra special is that of the +/- 7.300 KC awarded in WW2 only 252 were awarded to enlisted men and Max Friedrich was one of them, this is his story.

    Max Friedrich (°1921 +2007) from Leipzig joined the Wehrmacht in February 1941, after his basic training he was assigned to the third company of IR558 of the newly created 331ID.
    In March 1942 this division was sent to the Eastern front, in May 1943 the 331ID was part of the 16th Army and held a piece of frontline on the Newel in Northern Russia.
    In the winter 1943 the Red Army went in to the offensive again in their sector, this Red Army winter offensive was expected and in the case the 331ID was attacked they would retreat westwards to the so called Panther Line, a well prepared defensive line.
    Late December 1943 the pressure was on the piece of frontline of IR558 and as planned the regiment would start his retreat westwards.
    Max Friedrich's MG platoon had the task to cover the retreat of his battalion, but after a heavy artillery barrage, they were confronted with an open flank; Max Friedrich saw the danger for his battalion, he volunteered to operate the MG on his own so that his platoon members could retreat.
    His MG fire was so effective it halted four company strength attack waves.
    Only after his entire battalion had retreated in safety he left his position, the last one of his unit.
    Under the cover of darkness and closely pursued by Soviet soldiers, he eventually made it back to friendly lines.
    In January 1944 he was WIA, a serious bullet wound which kept him hospitalized until September 1944.
    His brave action didn't go unnoticed and he was promoted to sergeant and awarded the VWA, IAB, EKII, I and the KC for it.
    The KC was awarded on March 15 1944 by the 16th Army, he got his actual award in May 1944 in the hospital in Friedrichrode.
    It seems he celebrated his KC with a wild party, because while he was hospitalized for his bullet wound he was also treated for gonorrhoea.
    After he was recuperated he didn't return to his old unit but was thrown in to the armies replacement system like any ordinary soldier and he finally ended up in the first company of GR476 of the 256VGD.
    The 256VGD was one of the divisions that would participate in operation Nordwind, the winter offensive that started on new years eve 1944 in the Vosges mountains.
    Early in the offensive, on January 4 1945, in the sector Ludwigswinkel, Max Friedrich was WIA again, this time by an American bullet.
    The wound was again rather serious and it kept him in hospital until the end of the war.
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    Last edited by Peter U; 12-19-2018 at 02:55 PM.

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    Senior Member CM0087's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter U View Post
    75 Years ago, late in December 1943, Obergefreiter Max Friedrich earned the knights cross.
    What makes this Soldbuch extra special is that of the +/- 7.300 KC awarded in WW2 only 252 were awarded to enlisted men and Max Friedrich was one of them, this is his story.

    Max Friedrich (°1921 +2007) from Leipzig joined the Wehrmacht in February 1941, after his basic training he was assigned to the third company of IR558 of the newly created 331ID.
    In March 1942 this division was sent to the Eastern front, in May 1943 the 331ID was part of the 16th Army and held a piece of frontline on the Newel in Northern Russia.
    In the winter 1943 the Red Army went in to the offensive again in their sector, this Red Army winter offensive was expected and in the case the 331ID was attacked they would retreat westwards to the so called Panther Line, a well prepared defensive line.
    Late December 1943 the pressure was on the piece of frontline of IR558 and as planned the regiment would start his retreat westwards.
    Max Friedrich's MG platoon had the task to cover the retreat of his battalion, but after a heavy artillery barrage, they were confronted with an open flank; Max Friedrich saw the danger for his battalion, he volunteered to operate the MG on his own so that his platoon members could retreat.
    His MG fire was so effective it halted four company strength attack waves.
    Only after his entire battalion had retreated in safety he left his position, the last one of his unit.
    Under the cover of darkness and closely pursued by Soviet soldiers, he eventually made it back to friendly lines.
    In January 1944 he was WIA, a serious bullet wound which kept him hospitalized until September 1944.
    His brave action didn't go unnoticed and he was promoted to sergeant and awarded the VWA, IAB, EKII, I and the KC for it.
    The KC was awarded on March 15 1944 by the 16th Army, he got his actual award in May 1944 in the hospital in Friedrichrode.
    It seems he celebrated his KC with a wild party, because while he was hospitalized for his bullet wound he was also treated for gonorrhoea.
    After he was recuperated he didn't return to his old unit but was thrown in to the armies replacement system like any ordinary soldier and he finally ended up in the first company of GR476 of the 256VGD.
    The 256VGD was one of the divisions that would participate in operation Nordwind, the winter offensive that started on new years eve in the Vosges mountains.
    Early in the offensive, on January 4 1944, in the sector Ludwigswinkel, Max Friedrich was WIA again, this time by an American bullet.
    The wound was again rather serious and it kept him in hospital until the end of the war.

    Another outstanding read! Your Soldbuch collection and interpretations are one of, if not my favorite thing about this forum. Did he get issued 3 different K98k's between 1941-43? one of which was an S/24(?) (MB or ERMA?)

    Cheers
    Chris

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    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CM0087 View Post
    Another outstanding read! Your Soldbuch collection and interpretations are one of, if not my favorite thing about this forum. Did he get issued 3 different K98k's between 1941-43? one of which was an S/24(?) (MB or ERMA?)

    Cheers
    Chris

    Thanks Chris,

    As I can read it, he had between '41-'43 two K98k's, the one issued in March 1943 was one from the Gustloff Werke; in July 1942 he became a MG gunner, at time he was issued a MG cleaning kit and a pistol.
    He lost everything in December 1943/January 1944, even his gasmask.
    He went in to operation "Nordwind" armed with a rifle again (this isn't available on the images I provided).


    Cheers,
    Peter

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    Community Organizer Hambone's Avatar
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    What excellent and entertaining stuff What a character he was. Far cooler to me than a by the book officer award. I would really like to know how he won it, and his circumstances, to include what happened after to the way. Thanks for sharing this Peter. Always a great read.
    “Not every item of news should be published. Rather must those who control news policies endeavor to make every item of news serve a certain purpose.” - Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, 1933-1945

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    I Like Bunnies ditch68's Avatar
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    Great as always, Peter.

    I have to ask, what is your personal favorite Soldbuch from your collection, and why? Maybe it's own thread would be appropriate.

    Thanks for posting.

    Jeff
    Collecting latewar K98k rifles and snipers and scopes, and WWII German 6x30 binoculars.

    INFANTRY! FOLLOW ME!

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    Senior Member ebeeby's Avatar
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    Thanks again Peter! I note in his photo his wound badge ist schwartz und nicht silber - would that indicate a photo taken before the American bullet or could it be his award came late(r)?

    I hope the hospital was also in the Ludwigswinkel near the french border and the war ended with him getting some American penicillin for his, um, other complaint!

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    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ebeeby View Post
    Thanks again Peter! I note in his photo his wound badge ist schwartz und nicht silber - would that indicate a photo taken before the American bullet or could it be his award came late(r)?

    I hope the hospital was also in the Ludwigswinkel near the french border and the war ended with him getting some American penicillin for his, um, other complaint!

    Hello ebeeby,

    He was never awarded the wounded badge in silver; he was only wounded twice, you needed to be wounded three times or have a limb amputated.
    After his January 1945 wound he was finally hospitalized in Leipzig, his home town, he kept on living their in the DDR.

    Cheers,¨
    Peter

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    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ditch68 View Post
    Great as always, Peter.

    I have to ask, what is your personal favorite Soldbuch from your collection, and why? Maybe it's own thread would be appropriate.

    Thanks for posting.

    Jeff

    My favorite Soldbuch?
    That is a difficult question to answer.
    A Soldbuch tells a soldiers story and every story is different but they are all equally interesting.
    This one I really like:
    http://www.k98kforum.com/showthread....neral-Soldbuch
    In WW2 he wasn't a combat soldier like Max Friedrich but a military genius that worked in the OKW, because of his plans and staff work the German army was able to win some big victories.
    He was also a strong personality that wasn't afraid to oppose A.Hitler; by now he is largely forgotten.

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    Senior Member jack944's Avatar
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    Default good read

    good read as usual

    Did the German soldiers know who the manufacturer the codes stood for??

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    Default good read indeed

    good read indeed

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